The Frankenshirt!

We have a guest blog post, brought to you by one of our lovely customers, Kat, who made the most incredible scrap-busting shirt. She has shared how she made it with us.


My brother had been begging me to make him a shirt ever since I started sewing, but the busyness of university life (and selfishness of wanting to make myself things) meant I didn’t get round to it until lockdown, and then I figured, if I’m making one I may as well make him four!

I bought some Ruby Star Society and Lady McElroy cottons from Like Sew Amazing and Sister Mintaka to make him some very loud shirts.

Having finished his shirts, I had leftovers of these gorgeous fabrics that I just couldn’t let go of. I’m due to start work in September and am planning my workwear wardrobe, so decided a shirt toile was a good idea and the scraps could be used for this, along with some other leftovers in my stash. I chose the Grainline Studio Archer shirt.

To get a nice layout, I started laying pieces of fabric on the pattern pieces. Once laid out, I sewed the fabrics at one side and trimmed off excess to give an even edge. Doing this, you can build small areas of patchwork and the grow it into a larger piece of fabric. It works best if you have an equal edge so that you don’t have to try and sew any awkward corners (I learnt this the hard way!) I used white thread for all of this as changing threads would have been a nightmare and I’m all for an easy life (says the woman making a patchwork shirt!) I made sure to press the fabric before cutting out to try and get an accurate size.

For the collar and cuffs I used a single fabric – I thought this would sit better for these features.

Out of laziness, I used pinking shears on the inside patchwork seams at the end of cutting out the pattern pieces. It would have been tricky to overlock at this point due to the way the patchwork was expanded, so if you want to overlock I’d recommend doing it from the beginning. My cottons didn’t feel particularly prone to fraying, so I decided the pinking shears would do the job but for the seams of the shirt construction, I overlocked as normal. I did have one incident during the pinking shear trimming where I cut a little hole. Fortunately it was near the edge so I unpicked and replaced this piece of cotton, but just be careful not to make the same mistake I did!

Once I’d cut out the pattern pieces using my patchwork, I sewed the pattern up as normal. The instructions were well written and I found a sew along on the Grainline website. The construction of the sleeve placket wasn’t what I was expecting and uses a sort of binding rather than a traditional placket piece. This made it quite simple to sew, although because of my patchwork, it was hard to work out the correct distance to sew at. I would be tempted to try and swap this pattern piece for a traditional placket, however, the binding definitely works.

I made a size 2 for the shirt, which is graded to a 4 at the hips and the fit is generally good. One thing I’d probably change next time is to shorten the arms slightly – I just measured my dad for a very belated father’s day shirt and he has the same problem so it must be in the genes! But I’m going to be a shirt pro by the end of lockdown at this rate!

I love it so much and think I will have to whip it out for a few casual Fridays in the office once I start work! It is pretty crazy but I don’t think that will stop me from wearing it all the time.

I added one of my This Took Ages sew in labels from Pink Coat Club, as it seemed to fit the bill!

My friends have dubbed it the Frankenshirt and I think it’s pretty apt!

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